EMF radiation is harmful to your health. And the more of it you’re exposed to, the greater your risk. It’s also invisible and odorless. You can’t touch or taste it. So how can you know how much EMF you’re exposed to? By testing. What is EMF testing? Well, that’s what I’m about to answer for you.
Table of Contents
What is EMF Testing?
With the exponential growth in EMF-generating technologies, and the growing concerns over the health risks of electromagnetic radiation, a lot more people are asking this question.
Every device that communicates wirelessly, and every device that runs on AC power, emits electromagnetic radiation, or EMF for short.
When you test for EMF, you are testing how much EMF is present. And to do that, you use a device called an EMF meter.
What is an EMF Meter?
You can think of an EMF meter like a Geiger counter, which measures radiation. In fact, Geiger counters (which we’ve all seen in movies) actually measure EMF. But they measure a different type of EMF.
Geiger counters measure the amount of gamma radiation (as well as beta particles)present in the environment. Gamma radiation (which gets into the environment, for example, when a nuclear power plant has a meltdown) is a type of EMF.
But gamma radiation has so much energy, that it’s a type of what’s called ionizing radiation. It’s called that because the radiation has so much energy, it knocks electrons out of the atoms in your body! And it’s super dangerous, even in very low doses.
The type of EMF we’re talking about here – the kind emitted by cell phones, laptops and power lines – has much less energy. So much less energy that it’s a type of what we call non-ionizing radiation, and it does not knock electrons away from their cells. But it can still do a lot of damage to your health.
(Together, ionizing and non-ionizing types of EMF form what is called the electromagnetic spectrum, or EM spectrum. If you want to learn more about the EM spectrum, you can read a separate post I wrote on that subject. )
So in this post, we’re talking about testing non-ionizing EMF radiation.
What Is the Purpose of EMF Testing?
Each day there is more and more EMF in our environment. And the more of it you’re exposed to, the greater the risk to your health.
At the same time, EMF is an invisible force. You can’t see, touch, smell or taste it. Unless you are electrosensitive, you can’t feel it.
So, EMF is a health risk. But you can’t know how much of it you’re exposed to.
Unless you test.
And that’s why you should test EMF for yourself: to see how much EMF you’re being exposed to, if those levels exceed safe limits (more about what safe levels are, further down in this post), and where it’s coming from.
That’s how you can best know how to protect yourself, and shield your body, from the increasing number of sources of EMF in our lives.
It’s also really useful if you’re planning to move. If you’re buying a new house, or looking for a new apartment to rent, residential EMF testing is a great way to see what the EMF levels might be at your potential new home.
And, if you want to protect yourself using EMF protection products (like the ones I make and sell) learning how to test for yourself is even more important.
So to sum up, there are two main reasons to use EMF testing. One is to get an understanding of the levels of electromagnetic radiation you’re being exposed to. The other is to test EMF protection products to know if they’re really working.
Are EMF Protection Products Regulated?
Unfortunately, EMF protection products are not regulated.
That leaves the industry very susceptible for misleading claims and false advertising.
Many EMF protection companies out there blatantly lie about how well their products work, or intentionally mislead with their testing data.
But it’s important to realize that even with companies like SYB that tell you the truth and accurately represent product performance claims, that doesn’t mean that’s how the product will work for you, in real life, given how you personally will use it.
And that’s why I encourage my customers to learn how to test EMF shielding for themselves.
I once saw a customer review of one of my products on Amazon. This customer complained that we send our customers instructions on how to test our SYB products for themselves.
“Why don’t you just post the test results instead of telling us how to test for ourselves?”An Amazon Reviewer
(Actually, we do post test results. But there isn’t a convenient or practical way to do so on Amazon, so maybe this customer didn’t see the data on our website.)
But, more to the point, the reason I invest the effort to teach my customers how to verify that my products work the way that I claim, is precisely for all the reasons I’ve been saying.
Testing for yourself is the only way to know for sure if an EMF shielding product works the way it claims to, under the specific circumstances that you are using it.
End of story.
There are some EMF protection companies that actively dissuade customers from testing. They say that you can only rely on their test results because at-home testing is misleading. Such companies are doing you no favors.
So, to start digging in, let’s start by looking at different types of EMF tests.
The Different Types of EMF Tests
There are actually many types of EMF tests. It depends on what you want to test.
For instance, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) requires testing of certain wireless products to ensure the product doesn’t interfere with other wireless devices. That’s one kind of EMF testing.
But it’s not the kind we’re talking about here.
You may also have heard of SAR testing. SAR (or specific absorption rate) is a type of testing that cell phone manufacturers have to perform to ensure their devices do not emit more radiation than is legally allowed (although, as the PhoneGate scandal shows us, this testing is less than reliable).
As the name suggests, SAR tests measure how much radiation is absorbed by something – in the case of cell phones, that ‘something’ is the human body. But there are a lot of problems with this type of measurement because the amount of radiation your body absorbs depends on so many different variables, like your weight, muscle mass and gender.
This is why SAR tests can be so misleading, so easily distorted, and are not a good way to measure EMF.
Not to mention, SAR testing equipment is incredibly bulky and expensive – so it’s essentially impossible for you to do at home (that the industry has centered safety standards around a test that’s impossible for you to perform for yourself is another way they attempt to disempower you).
So what type of EMF test are we talking about here?
EMF Emissions Tests
Well, when it comes to measuring EMF levels, we’re talking about EMF emissions tests.
While SAR tells us how much EMF is absorbed by an object, EMF emissions tests tell us how much EMF an object emits, or sends into the environment.
By performing EMF emissions tests, for example, you can see how much EMF your cell phone emits, or how much EMF is coming from your smart meter.
EMF Attenuation Tests
Another type of test that we’re talking about here is called an EMF attenuation test. Attenuation tests are useful to verify claims of products like mine that shield you against harmful EMF radiation.
Attenuation essentially means blocking.
So an attenuation test tells us how much EMF radiation something like our SYB Phone Pouch will ‘attenuate’, or block.
And that’s why companies like mine publish the results of attenuation tests performed on our products – to show you that our products actually work.
And these tests are important to consumers. Because EMF is a complex subject. And a lot of people do not know how to test EMF shielding for themselves.
So naturally consumers like you are going to rely on tests like these.
But, what an ‘EMF test’ means might be different than what you think it means. So, let’s dive in and learn a little more about EMF attenuation tests.
What Do EMF Attenuation Tests Actually Tell Us?
Attenuation tests do, in fact, tell us how much EMF was blocked by a product.
But that is very far from the whole story.
Because really, attenuation data tells us how much EMF was blocked under very specific circumstances.
And that’s a really important clarification.
Take a product claim like “tests shows we block 99% of EMF radiation.”
When we see that, our minds interpret that to mean “blocks 99% of all EMF radiation;” and then our minds add “in all circumstances” to the end of the phrase, without even realizing it – completely subconsciously.
So even though the original claim was:
“tests show we block 99% of EMF radiation”
we read it as:
“tests show we block 99% of all EMF radiation, in all circumstances.”
When in fact, the original claim would be more properly stated as:
“tests show we can block up to 99% of EMF radiation, in a very specific set of circumstances.”
Which is really very different. Let’s dig into that a bit more so you can really see what I mean.
What Does “Specific Circumstances” Mean?
“Specific circumstances” means that however much EMF was shielded in the test is specific to the situation in which the product was tested.
- What was the EMF source?
- Where was the EMF protection product placed in relation to the source?
- What tool was used to measure the EMF levels?
- Where was that EMF measurement tool placed?
- What frequencies were measured?
- What is the background level of EMF radiation present during the test? And was it accounted for in the test?
These are just some of the aspects of a test that make the test unique and lead to whatever results are generated.
Change any one of those factors, and the test results can vary — sometimes, quite significantly.
The way a product is tested in a lab could have little relationship — or no relationship at all — to how you would use the product in real life.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that lab testing almost never tells you how EMF shielding will work, for you, in your real life.
The testing environment is too artificial, too unrelated to how you will actually use the product.
And that’s why I spend the time to show you how you can test for yourself, to see how effective EMF shielding products are, in the specific circumstances that you use them— in your real-world scenarios.
Those are the only test results that matter for you and your health.
But before we get there, I want to discuss a few more reasons why attenuation test results can be so misleading.
Tests Can Be Very Misleading
I once designed a shielding product for SYB.
And the lab tests showed that this product blocked 99% of EMF radiation. That’s really good, right?
Then, I tested it in real-life scenarios, outside of a lab. And I had some customers test the product, too.
And it turned out that the product shielded very little EMF — maybe 20% in most real-life scenarios.
That’s a huge difference. The lab tests said it shielded 99% and in real life it shielded only 20% – or about 1/5th of that.
Why the difference?
Because in real life the product was used in a very different way than it was tested in the lab.
So, I do not sell that product.
But I could sell it.
And I could truthfully say that “lab tests show it blocks up to 99% of EMF radiation”.
And that would make you want to buy it.
And unless you tested for yourself, you’d never know the shielding wasn’t working right.
I share this story to demonstrate just how misleading lab test data can be.
You can’t just rely on it; you can’t just assume it’s true; and you can’t just assume the results will apply to you and how you would use the product.
That’s why you need to test for yourself.
Because, as any scientist will tell you, you can design a scientific experiment to demonstrate anything.
In fact, this is precisely how the wireless industry is able to generate so many scientific studies showing that EMF has no impact on human health. It’s not because they’re lying, or practicing faulty science.
It’s because they design these studies from the ground up to show specific results, even if those results do not apply to real life.
Another way that some EMF protection companies try to mislead you is with FCC Certified Testing.
Let’s see why.
What is ‘FCC Certified’ Testing?
You may have noticed that some EMF protection companies display and market “FCC Certified Testing” for their products.
So I thought it would be useful to explain what this means.
First off, let’s explain that the FCC is the United States Federal Communications Commission. This is the agency of the US federal government that regulates wireless communication.
Now, you might think that FCC certified testing is performed by the FCC. That is incorrect.
FCC certified testing means that a test was performed at a laboratory that has been certified as compliant by the FCC (the United States Federal Communications Commission).
The lab has to use specific devices and processes suitable to approve products that the FCC regulates. (If you’re interested in the details, you can check the FCC qualifications for testing laboratories.)
Here’s the key thing: the FCC does not regulate EMF protection products!
So what does the FCC do? The FCC’s mission statement explains that the agency:
“regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.”The FCC Mission Statement
Notice how that mission does not even mention EMF, or health effects? Yeah, me too.
The FCC barely even cares about the harmful effects of EMF radiation. In fact, literally the only aspect of human health the FCC cares about is that the wireless device doesn’t burn you (the so-called ‘thermal effect’ of EMF).
That’s it. Really.
In short, the FCC does not care about EMF health.
At all. (They are, after all, the regulatory agency that has ruled that 5G is completely safe.)
So, if you’re releasing a new WiFi router, and need to prove to the FCC that it doesn’t interfere with other wireless devices, then having tests done at an FCC certified lab matters. A lot. In fact, you can’t release the product without these tests.
But that’s it!
If you’re looking to test anything else, the fact that a test was done at an FCC certified lab is completely irrelevant.
So, saying that your EMF protection product was tested at an FCC certified laboratory, would be like the NFL bragging that “the Super Bowl was refereed by the absolute best Major League Baseball umpires!”
It makes no sense!
In fact, I’ve contacted several of these FCC certified labs, and many of them do not even know how to test EMF shielding products.
Because it’s not what they’re used to doing.
Because it’s not their business.
But, because there are no governmental or international bodies that regulate EMF protection products, other companies use “FCC Certified Labs” as a stand-in authority for marketing purposes, in a way that lulls customers into a false sense of security.
The fact that an EMF shielding test was performed at an FCC certified laboratory is completely irrelevant.
I repeat: Completely irrelevant.
Remember: what actually matters is testing for the real-world circumstances in which you will use EMF shielding products.
This is just another example of why, if you’re interested in EMF protection, then it’s really important to know how to test EMF protection products for yourself.
Different Types of Non-Ionizing EMF Radiation
Before we get to how to test EMF, there’s one more important thing to note: there are many different types of EMF.
We already talked about the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing forms of EMF radiation. But even within non-ionizing EMF, there are different types. (Again, feel free to check out my post about the electromagnetic spectrum, which I briefly touched on earlier in this post.)
For our purposes here, it’s important to realize that, when it comes to EMF emissions from modern technology, there are two types of non-ionizing EMF radiation we’re concerned about.
- Radio Frequency (or RF). RF radiation is also referred to as ‘microwave’ radiation (which is the type of radiation used by your microwave oven to cook food. It’s also the type of radiation that’s used for all wireless communication. So, your cell phone, your wifi, your baby monitor, your favorite radio station – all of these technologies rely on RF radiation to function.
- Extremely Low Frequency (or ELF). ELF is the type of EMF radiation emitted by power lines and AC appliances. It has much less energy than RF radiation (but don’t confuse that with power; EMF energy and power are two different things). While RF is considered a single electromagnetic field, at this level of energy scientists and engineers split ELF into electric fields and magnetic fields.
In short, Radio Frequency (RF) is emitted by any device that communicates wirelessly; and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) is emitted by any device that runs on AC power.
And when it comes to the types of tests I’m talking about in this post, both types matter. Because both of these are emitted by modern technology.
And, to make things slightly more complicated, ELF is actually considered two separate forces – electric and magnetic – while RF is considered to be a single electromagnetic force.
What that means for us is that, when it comes to our goal of measuring EMF, we’re talking about measuring three types of EMF:
What EMF Meter Should I Buy?
It likely won’t surprise you to realize that all of these types of EMF require different meters.
Except, a bit of good news!
There’s an EMF meter called the TriField. And it’s called the TriField because it measures all three of these types of EMF radiation in one device. And it’s relatively affordable. And it’s reasonably accurate.
So when customers ask me which type of EMF meter to buy, I often point them to the TriField TF2 – because you can measure all three types of non-ionizing EMF in one reasonably-priced and reasonably accurate device.
Consumer-grade meters (like the TriField) are incredibly useful, and an important part of your arsenal if you are concerned about EMF radiation.
But it is important to understand that they are limited in their accuracy. There is a reason why your meter cost ~$150, but the ones in labs cost tens of thousands of dollars.
As a result, these home meters can get stuff wrong sometimes. They aren’t the most accurate. They aren’t the most sensitive. They can combine readings from different sets of frequencies. If you use multiple different meters, you’ll often find they don’t show you the same values.
So I advocate using a decent consumer-grade meter. I really do think they are incredibly important tools for people like you who are aware of the negative health effects of EMF.
But it’s also important to remember that they are not the most accurate measurements.
Generally, if you have a decent consumer-grade meter, it can tell you if the level of EMF in your environment is high or low.
And when it comes to testing EMF protection products, like the ones you can buy here at SYB, a good consumer-grade meter can generally tell you if the product is actually providing you with protection – in other words, if it’s actually working to reduce your exposure.
But none of these home meters can really tell you exactly how much radiation is being shielded. They aren’t accurate enough for that.
But they are good enough to know if you’re being exposed to a lot or a little of EMF, and whether your EMF protection is working. And that in itself is very useful information.
How do I Test EMF for Myself?
Testing EMF is actually relatively simple, once you get the hang of it.
Turn on your meter. If it has multiple settings, you’ll want to ensure that it’s set to the correct setting for what you are trying to measure.
Then, hold your meter steady in the area you want to measure. For example, hold your meter up to your cell phone. Try it when your phone is on a call or streaming video, and then try it with your phone in airplane mode. You’ll be amazed at the different readings.
And that’s it!
Now you’re testing EMF for yourself!
How do I Test EMF Protection Products for Myself?
If you want to test the product claims of a product like my SYB Phone Pouch, take your cell phone and use your EMF meter to measure the EMF emissions.
Then put your SYB Phone Pouch between the phone and the meter and measure again.
If you see a reduction, then the EMF protection is working. The reduction in emissions shows that your SYB product actually works.
You can also check out the SYB EMF Shielding Test Videos to see how it’s done with some of the most popular consumer-grade EMF meters.
At-Home EMF Testing Pro Tips
It really is that simple to test EMF levels, and EMF shielding performance, for yourself. That’s all that goes into performing a basic test. But if you want better results, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1) Cheap Meters are Cheap
I get it. EMF meters aren’t cheap. Who wants to buy a $140 or $200 or $300 meter just to test whether their $30 Phone Pouch is working?
It turns out there are a lot of very inexpensive EMF meters available. They are inexpensive for a reason — they’re not very good.
They are not accurate, and should not be used for testing.
2) Measure Background Levels
If you want to measure how much radiation your cell phone is emitting, for example, or how much radiation my SYB Phone Pouch is shielding from your cell phone, you’ll want to first measure how much ambient EMF radiation is in your testing environment.
So, before you begin your test, take some measurements and make sure the background level of EMF isn’t too high.
If you are testing in a high-EMF environment (such as near a wifi router or a baby monitor or a cell phone), your results will be very misleading.
For EMF product testing, you want to find a place with as low EMF levels as possible to perform your test.
3) Hold Still
A lot of EMF meters — especially the more affordable ones — need to be held still, in a consistent position, for at least a few seconds, in order to get an accurate measurement.
If you move the meter around too much, too quickly, you will get inaccurate results.
4) Don’t Touch
The human body is an EMF conductor. And as a result, your body can throw off the accuracy of your test results.
So, when testing, do not touch the source of the EMF (such as the cell phone or wifi router you are using as the source of EMF for your test).
If possible, also do not touch the meter — let it read out measurements without touching it. But that’s not always possible, and it’s not as important as ensuring you do not touch the device you are using as the source of the EMF in your test.
5) Beware ‘MAX’ Levels
All EMF meters are only designed to measure up to certain levels of EMF. The TriField TF2, for example, maxes out RF readings at 20 mW/cm2 (milliwatt per square-centimeter) and the Acousticom 2 maxes out at 6 V/m (volts per meter).
When your meter indicates a max reading, that means it is measuring at least that level of radiation. The actual level could be much higher.
In other words, when your meter is at the max, you don’t actually know what the measured level of radiation is. And if you don’t know what the actual level of EMF is, you can’t know how much is being shielded.
6) Check Levels, Not Lights
Several EMF meters, including the Acousticom 2 and the Cornet RF meters, include a column of lights designed to indicate risk.
While these lights are helpful, they do not, on their own, indicate shielding effectiveness. For example, on the Acousticom 2, a reading of 6 V/m is red, and a reading of 0.1 V/m is still yellow (not green). 0.1 V/m is a 98.3% reduction in field strength from 6 V/m, but if you just rely on the lights themselves, you won’t see how much radiation is being shielded.
So, always check the actual levels — don’t rely on the lights.
7) Be Aware of Logarithmic Displays
Many EMF meters, including the TriField 100XE (the predecessor of the TF2) and the Acousticom 2 use logarithmic displays. This means the readouts aren’t linear.
For example, on the TriField 100XE, the max level (if the needle is all the way to the right) is 1 mW/cm2. If the needle is only half way on the scale (pointed straight up) the level is actually approximately 0.18 mW/cm2. Because the needle is half way to the max, you might think that the measured level is half of the max. But in reality, it’s 18% of the max (so, way less than 50%).
In this way, logarithmic displays can be really counter-intuitive – not inaccurate, but a bit misleading. So, when you’re using a meter with logarithmic displays, make sure to properly check the actual levels measured.
8) Direction Matters
EMF is a force that has direction. So the direction of your meter in relation to the direction of the EMF you are measuring will influence your results.
The TriField, like all the EMF meters I generally recommend mentioned in this ebook are what are known as single-axis meters. This means they are designed to measure EMF along a single axis, in a single direction.
In order to account for that, you should take measurements of the same area, with your meter pointed in different directions. It’s quite likely that the levels you measure will change.
I tend to recommend single-axis meters to my customers because those are the most affordable options. But if you want increased accuracy, invest in a triple-axis RF meter, like the TES 593. Then you do not need to worry about moving your meter in different directions to get the increased accuracy.
What is the Unit for EMF?
Each of the three types of EMF that we’re measuring are measured using different units.
ELF-magnetic fields are measured using a unit called a gauss (G), which measures magnetic flux density. The unit is named after the mathematician and physicist, Carl Friedrich Gauss. Most ELF-magnetic meters measure in gauss, which is why they are often called gauss meters. But ELF-magnetic fields are also sometimes measured using units called tesla (t), named after the famous inventor (and Edison nemesis) Nikola Tesla.
Gauss and tesla are directly convertible units. 1 tesla = 10,000 gauss (or 10 mG, milligauss).
The strength of ELF-electric fields are measured in volts per meter (V/m), which is a measure of electric potential over distance.
Different meters measure radio frequency fields with different units. All of them are measurements of power density, or how much power is present in a given area. The power is often measured in watts (just like a light bulb), and the power density is often measured in watts per square meter (W/m2), or watts per square centimeter (W/cm2).
All of these units follow the metric system. So 1,000 watts, for example, is a kilowatt (kW). And one thousandth of a Watt is a milliwatt (mW).
It’s not really important to understand all these units – after all, this is complex science – but it is important to know what units you are measuring in, so you can, for example, compare your measurements to other measurements of the same type, or to published safety limits.
What is a Normal EMF Reading?
Ah, now that’s the real question, isn’t it? What is a normal reading of EMF?
Well, it depends what you mean by ‘normal’ or ‘safe’. Almost all of the EMF we’re exposed to in daily life is human-made, and did not exist until recently in human history. So, from that perspective, no amount of EMF is ‘normal’.
But when people ask this question, I find they are really asking, what amount of EMF is safe?
And I have a separate post that attempts to answer that question for you, including the recommended safety levels from the World Health Organization and countries around the world.
What You’ve Learned
In this post, we covered a lot of ground. We discussed:
- What EMF testing is
- What an EMF meter is and how to use one
- The difference between ionizing and non-ionizing EMF radiation
- The lack of regulation around EMF protection products
- Different types of EMF tests
- The difference between EMF absorption tests (like SAR) and EMF emissions tests
- What EMF emissions tests actually tell us
- How EMF emissions tests can be ‘sculpted’ and misused to provide you with a false sense of security
- The different types of EMF meters you might want to buy
- Which EMF meter I most commonly recommend
- How to actually test for yourself
- The tips to take the accuracy of your testing to the next level
- What units are used for EMF testing
Now, that’s all about ‘how’ to test. The final question is ‘why’. Why should you take the time and go to the trouble of learning how to test EMF for yourself?
Why Should I Test EMF for Myself?
I think it’s really important for customers to be informed, to know the truth about EMF in their environments.
Unless you test, you have no idea how much EMF you’re being exposed to. It’s all just guesswork, which can lead to fear and anxiety – and leaves people open to being taken advantage of by unscrupulous companies.
And, since the EMF protection industry is entirely unregulated – and there are many companies out there making false and misleading claims – I also think it’s incredibly important for you to understand how you can verify product claims for yourself.
That’s why I invest so much time and energy into helping our customers with testing.
When any customer emails me asking about how to test, or asks why their tests didn’t show the results they were expecting, I take the time to personally dig into the matter. I ask them questions about their test. I ask them to record a video of the test, so I can see what’s happening. Sometimes, I’ll even go and buy the same EMF meter they are using so that I can test for myself.
Because EMF testing can be a little complicated. There are a lot of things that can influence the results. And so many of the meters use different units, and work differently, and have different settings.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as using a thermometer.
But it can be done. You can do it for yourself!
And if EMF is an issue that matters to you, you should do it for yourself.
Now, maybe one day SYB will grow so large that I can’t personally spend the time to do this with each customer.
But for now, I consider it an important part of my job.
Because I want my customers to have the knowledge and skills to navigate the complex world of EMF protection products with confidence.
And I want my customers to know that I’m being truthful with them. Truthful about EMF science, and truthful about our product claims.
I want my customers to be able to know for themselves that SYB really stands behind its product claims.
Most of the time, the customer is able to verify our product claims in their own tests.
But not always.
Sometimes — given how the customer is using the product, or given the specific wireless device they are trying to shield — our shielding effectiveness isn’t quite as good as we claim.
And when that happens, I acknowledge it, and work to find a solution to satisfy my customer — because (contrary to what others may have you believe) there is no EMF shielding product that is 100% effective against all EMF in all scenarios. There just isn’t. The world of technology is too complicated for that.
So don’t just take my word (or the word of other EMF protection companies).
See for yourself with your own EMF testing.